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Confidence and community support key at East Ridge graduation

East Ridge High School graduates Mackenzie Anderson (left), Cole Angell, Andrew Arntzen, Nitalia Arora, Roshan Babu, Conor James Bachman and Frank Ji Yoon Back laugh as Cormac Dolezal, the ceremony's student-selected speaker, delivers his graduation speech. Maureen McMullen / RiverTown Multimedia.1 / 5
Class President Hayden Schulz emphasized the community's support for the East Ridge student body in his speech at the graduation ceremony Sunday, June 4, 2017. Maureen McMullen / RiverTown Multimedia.2 / 5
Cormac Dolezal, the student-selected speaker for East Ridge High School graduation, wrapped up his commencement speech with a rendition of Anne Kendrick's "Cups/You're Gonna Miss Me When I'm Gone." Maureen McMullen / RiverTown Multimedia.3 / 5
East Ridge Choir Director Elizabeth Gullick leads the high school's Bel Canto Choir in Simon and Garfunkle's "Like a Bridge Over Troubled Water." Maureen McMullen / RiverTown Multimedia.4 / 5
Graduate Abdalla Abdelrahman was the first of more than 400 students to cross the stage during the East Ridge High School graduation ceremony Sunday, June 4, 2017. Maureen McMullen /RiverTown Multimedia.5 / 5

Cormac Dolezal offered 444 of his fellow East Ridge High School graduates words of advice during his speech at the commencement ceremony June 4:

"Be confident, be caring, but most of all, be you."

Dolezal, the student-selected speaker for the ceremony, encouraged his classmates to use the confidence fostered at East Ridge as they approach the next step in their lives.

"It is unfortunate that the world ahead is not a perfect one, but sometimes things break because they're meant to be fixed, and the darkest hour is always just before the dawn," he said. "I've spent the past four years with you all, and I can genuinely say that I've never met a more thoughtful, intelligent and attractive group of 400-plus people my own age."

Speakers emphasized a roster of students' accomplishments throughout the last four years, including a football conference win, the robotics team advancing to national competitions and admissions into nearly every Ivy League school.

East Ridge Class President Hayden Schulz credited students' success to support from teachers, administration and the Woodbury community.

"This support was not just at football games," he said. "This support was in classrooms, and it also took place in the auditorium for sold-out theatre performances. While we certainly accomplished a lot as a class, we wouldn't have been able to do it without the support of our community."